I really got interested when my husband sent me an email about the first ABNA contest back in 2008. I had a story I'd been working on for about four years and was determined to finish it and enter it in the contest. It was all free, so I had nothing to lose and was looking forward to the experience.
Haversham Hill started out as a dream that I built a story around. I'm blessed to have vivid wild dreams most of the time and although this is a ghost story, I'm never afraid when I'm dreaming.
Over the next three - four months I wrote my butt off on that story, going over it and rewriting several times. I probably read it thirty times and could tell you the whole story without even reading it. I didn't know if I would ever be satisfied with my efforts. I finally decided I could only tweak on it so much.
Then of course came my lesson in formatting. I was so frustrated with Word at that point because I had never used it much before. I usually hand wrote on big legal pads, or in notebooks up to that point. Typing this whole story into Word was a huge task. I about pulled my hair out trying to learn the program in such a short period of time. I picked my girlfriend's brain on the phone since she was in TX and I was here in the desert in southern UT. I finally got a Word tutor at the local college to help me out. Those were trying times, but I won't be deterred and got everything ready in time.
I did make it a few rounds in the contest before I was eliminated, so I felt good about all my hard work. I met many wonderful talented writers and learned a lot.
When the contest was over, I did lots of research on publishing and decided to self-publish the book with Createspace, the best value I found at the time. Now I had another problem, I needed a cover. At the time, CS didn't have the cover creator they do today.
This presented another big learning curve as I taught myself Photoshop. In many ways, this was worse than learning Word, but I was determined and stubborn and eventually succeeded in making my cover.
I had tons of photos on my computer and needed one of the woods for this book. At that time we owned a cabin in the mountains we could escape to in the summer when it was 115 here in the desert. The cabin was in a national forest at 6800 feet high. This gave me an opportunity to take lots of woodsy pics.
A couple of stressful months later I had everything ready and uploaded my files. Then I anxiously awaited the proof copy, which arrived surprisingly fast. I sat down to read it like a book for the first time. This proof was free for entering the contest, but to my horror I found a missing period and a missing set of quotation marks. I couldn't let that slide, so I had to fix it and upload a new file, then wait for another proof copy.
Finally book one was ready. Since I can't spend any money on my writing projects, I'm not sure how I came up with the cash to buy these books, but I was so excited when they arrived. I really felt a sense of accomplishment.
The wonderful feeling of holding your first book
This is my first book and still my best seller. I think it's because it's a ghost story. Looking at it now, I would probably have done a few things differently if I was doing it today.
By this time I was working on book two, another fantasy, but this time a medieval, romance adventure story. I've always loved the tales of King Arthur and reading about the Middle Ages. So I set my story in a small hamlet and decided to take two sisters that would be separated and left as orphans after raiders killed their parents.
The story took about a year and a half to write. I had to do a lot of research for that time period in order to get things as accurate as possible.
When I was finished, I found another writer on the internet to exchange books with and he read my work for errors. This is the book I entered in the ABNA the following year. I made it a couple of rounds with this one also.
When the contest was over I designed a cover by setting up my own back drop here at the house and taking about fifty pictures to get the right one that I envisioned in my mind. This time Word and Photoshop wasn't as hard to work with.
I also published this book with CS and have plans to make it a sequel someday in the future, although it can stand alone as a book.
While this book was in the contest, I started on my next novel, again inspired by another dream.
My third book is a Y/A adventure story about a twelve-year-old boy who meets a leprechaun. He's an adventurous kid and this was fun to write. I set this book in Ireland and the lad is a bored potato farmer's son.
Yes, this was another ABNA entry. I can't seem to stay away from that contest.
I received a Wacom tablet for Christmas the year I was writing this book so I used it along with Photoshop to design my cover. I had a lot of fun doing that because I love to draw, but painting in pixels is a whole new game.
Saving the Rainbow isn't a big seller. I think the story has a nice message, but I have some Irish speak in it to make it more authentic. Maybe I overdid it.
Here's my table at the book faire
During all this, I also wrote and finished a family book of farm stories during the years we were all growing up in south TX. This was a ten-year project and I decided to print and bind it myself and not make it available through Amazon.
I've now taken a different path for a while and have written my first mystery, which is being edited right now. Meanwhile, I'm almost finished with the sequel. I have a cover in my head for this book, but don't have one available yet to post. I'm not sure if it will be published this year or not. I hope so.
You can find out more about my books on my writing blog Faerie Book Loft or on my website Faerie Mound Books.
Thanks for reading.